Interview with Gary Chan from Bibble & Sip

My name is Gary Chan, I’m the founder & main proprietor of Bibble & Sip, and a 2014 graduate of ICC’s Pastry Techniques Program.

Last week was Bibble & Sip’s 1-year anniversary. Hard to believe it’s been a whole year already. Coming up with the cafe name took some efforts, but at one point Bibble & Sip just fell into place and stuck. “Bibble” is an archaic word that means to eat indulgently; “sip” implies cultured enjoyment. I wanted my cafe to be a casual and fancy experience at the same time, a relaxed environment offering sophisticated flavors.

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– What did you do before attending ICC?

I graduated with a degree in Communication Arts, aiming to take part in the family electronics/film business. But very soon I realized it wasn’t a choice of passion. So I detoured from that prescribed route and started my own design company. After many years of hard work that didn’t quite pay off, I reevaluated my life and decided that design was just another safe route devised from the foundation of my former education. If I were to completely abandon what I should logically be doing with my life, where would my passion take me? And that’s how I ended up in ICC.

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– What is your best memory from ICC?

There are many great memories, but if I must name the foremost, I would say the train ride home each day. That feeling is so nostalgic, where after a long and tiring day, my body would collapse on the train seat and everything I learned and did during the day got processed through my head. And the best part was, I would be holding the end product of the day, still warm on my lap, with its aroma filling the surrounding, and I just couldn’t wait to share it with my family.

– What inspired you to open Bibble & Sip?

Baking has always been a passion. Running my own business is a personal endeavor. With all the knowledge learned from ICC, I had so many flavor and recipe ideas that needed physical shaping. Thanks to my supportive family, teachers, and mentors (Chef Michael Zebrowski, Chef Michael Brock), those ideas not only took shape, but also shaped my dream cafe.

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– What was the greatest challenge in opening your business?

The greatest challenge was overcoming the initial discouragement of an open but empty cafe. The first week when we opened, we pretty much watched skeptical passers-by day after day. All those pastry items (and hard work!) were thrown away at the end of the day, that heartache is indescribable. But we’re quite lucky that business picked up very quickly.

– What is the most rewarding part of running Bibble & Sip?

The most rewarding is seeing our regular customers come back time after time. It gives me so much confidence and gratitude to see the familiar faces. I love the feeling of looking down the line and knowing exactly what the next person is about to order. Of course, it’s also a different type of rewarding feeling to see excited new visitors snapping photos. It means they’re here from good word of mouth.

– Describe a day in your life.

I live about 2 minutes away from the cafe, so my day pretty much starts, progresses, and ends within the few hundred feet radius. I go in early in the morning, check that the kitchen prep is on its way. I make sure all the shifts of the day are covered. Once the cafe door opens, it’s all business with a short lunch break. By now everyone is familiar with the flow of the day so all the tasks are pretty routine. We have a wonderful team that works together seamlessly. My work day ends after the cafe closes, and all the cleaning work is done, which is late, but at least I’m only 2 minutes from home.

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– What is your personal favorite drink and food at Bibble & Sip?

My personal favorite drink is just a simple cappuccino. My favorite food is the recently introduced Black Sesame Mousse Hazelnut Chocolate Cake. It’s been a successful new item so far. I’m glad the customers like it as much as I do.

– How do you come up with the new menu items?

It takes me quite some time to push out a new menu item. There is a long journey between the time an idea is formed and when a finished product finally gets put into the display case. It takes experimenting and re-experimenting, changes after changes, giving up then being picked back up again, tasting and reevaluating to finally be satisfactory.

It’s hard to say where inspirations come from, though the basis is generally French techniques and Asian flavors. But some of our best selling items are actually very personal recipes from home. My wife plays a huge role in the filtering process of what ends up on the menu. She was the one that gave me the confidence to sell our cream puffs despite it being such a simple item that I used to make for her as treats.

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– What would you tell someone who is looking into starting a career or business in pastry?

I would say, make sure you’re ready to devote 95% of your life into this business. Brush aside all other priorities for this commitment, and make sure that people around you understand. There are so many details that I wish someone had told me about, but every business differs. I mean things like which brand appliance is better than another. Or warnings like, never use this design company for your display case. It was one of my biggest investments I’ve made that turned into my currently biggest headache with all its malfunctions and the manufacturer’s negligence.

– What are your dreams for the future?

My dream isn’t very vast. I’m just constantly reminding myself not to take the current progress for granted, and that I still need to work hard to maintain and improve the good qualities that brought us the well acceptance. If fortunate enough, perhaps Bibble & Sip will one day have other locations!

Bibble & Sip
Bakery cafe
253 W 51 St New York, NY 10019
(646) 649-5116
WebsiteFacebookInstagram

Michelin 2016 announced star recipients

Michelin, the Paris-based publisher of gastronomic guides, has released its annual list of starred ratings for New York City, San Francisco and Chicago restaurants. The guide’s reviewers (commonly called “inspectors”) anonymously award restaurants with either one star, two stars, or three stars. The stars are awarded as follows:

  • One star: A good place to stop on your journey, indicating a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard.
  • Two stars: A restaurant worth a detour, indicating excellent cuisine and skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality
  • Three stars: A restaurant worth a special journey, indicating exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients.

Congratulations to all the Michelin 2016 winners! We’re excited to congratulate the following ICC’s alumni and faculty who made us incredibly proud this year:

Three Stars (“Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”)

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Manresa // David Kinch

320 Village Ln.
Los Gatos, CA

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Saison // Josh Skenes

178 Townsend St.
San Francisco, CA

Two Stars (“Excellent cuisine, worth a detour”)

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Momofuku Ko // David Chang

8 Extra Pl.
New York, NY

One Star (“A very good restaurant in its category”)

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Blue Hill // Dan Barber

75 Washington Pl.
New York, NY

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Sepia // Andrew Zimmerman

123 N. Jefferson St.
Chicago, IL

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Public // Dan Rafalin

210 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY

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Meadowsweet // Polo Dobkin

149 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY

ICC Alum Hosts Wine Business + Tasting Afternoon

By Rachel Lintott
ICC’s Associate Wine Director
Certified Sommelier

Each with a flute of pink bubbles in hand, ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training students all sat down at the long, wooden table in CooperVino’s private dining room/education salon. “I’m going to ask you all to guess what this is. You’ll never guess what it is,” exclaimed owner Michele Snock as she graciously greeted the class. A 2009 Intensive Sommelier Training graduate herself, Snock is now the owner of the recently opened wine bar and retail space in the new downtown Cupertino.

You see, it’s nearly impossible for a group of wine geeks NOT to challenge one another when it comes to blind tasting. It’s just too much fun, plus you might find yourself (as we did) sipping on something quite delicious.

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Snock, a member of ICC’s Professional Advisory Committee (a group of professionals that help guide the school on industry trends, program improvements, etc.) invited the class to come in for a lesson on opening a business. Specifically, the path she took from corporate Silicon Valley, to becoming a Certified Sommelier, to opening and running a small wine business and what she’s learned along the way.

A few (not all) tips from Michele on opening a successful wine bar:

  • Love customer service and be gracious.
  • You don’t have to know everything. When hiring your staff, look for people with qualities and knowledge that you don’t have. Let them help you and learn from them.
  • You need extensive wine knowledge (ahem, I know where you can get that!).
  • Differentiate yourself.

After her presentation and ample discussion on the business of wine, a flight of Italian whites was presented. The students are at the beginning of the program — France — so it was a great glimpse at what’s to come. A floral 2014 Ippolito 1845 Ciro Bianco (100% Greco Bianco from Calabria), a refreshing 2014 Poggio del Gorleri Vermentino (from Liguria), and an exotic orange wine: 2009 Primosic Ribolla di Oslavia (100% Ribolla Gialla from Collio).

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And, the sparkling rose? Well the predominant minerality led the students to the Old World, but once France was crossed off the list there were some far-fetched guesses. Finally, she revealed to us that the wine was from Sicily — Nerello-Mascalese made in the metodo classico: 2011 Murgo Brut Rosé.

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Snock’s dedication and perseverance are apparent at CooperVino. Carefully selected wines, ambience, customer service and education intertwine to create an enjoyable and fun experience. Thank you Michele, for taking the time to support our students by sharing your knowledge, experience, hospitality and wine!

– Rachel

Q&A with Tam Trinh of Sugarlips Cakes

Originally from California, Tam realized at an early age that she had a great passion for both art and baking. With her desire to bring both of these passions together, she found her ultimate passion in patisserie. Sugarlips Cakes was started in September 2012, when Tam moved to The Netherlands, for love, and started the company with her (now) husband, Luc.

Current job: Owner and Cake Artist at Sugarlips Cakes (Utrecht, the Netherlands)

Hometown: Newport Beach, California

Course of study: Classic Pastry Arts

Graduation year: 2011

One food/beverage you can’t live without: Shockingly, not a dessert, though it comes in a very close second. But I cannot live without red meat!

Describe your culinary POV in three words: Less is more.

Best meal of all time: FG Restaurant (Rotterdam, NL), 2 Michelin Stars. The dessert was so inspiring that I ended up ordering a second dessert just to taste more of their creative combinations. I asked them to go as crazy as possible and surprise me, and in the end it included vanilla ice cream with caramelized macadamia nuts, blue label olive oil, and liver. It was absolutely delicious and so inventive!

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What were you doing before you attended International Culinary Center?

I was actually studying studio arts at the University of California, Irvine. It wasn’t really what I wanted to do in life, but I did it to make my parents happy and to have a back-up. I always knew I wanted to do something more towards a creative path, and pushed myself to graduate a year early so I could immediately enroll in ICC.

How did you choose your specialty?

Though I loved everything that I learned in my time at ICC, when we got to the cake curriculum, I knew I was at home. I absolutely loved making and decorating cakes, and once Ron Ben-Israel came to teach our class, I was sure this was what I wanted to do with my life. I have always loved details and small handwork, and this was where I could incorporate that into what I love.

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Why did you choose International Culinary Center?

I did a lot of research on different culinary schools and ICC kept coming up as the best and most well rounded. I really knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in school anymore, and the fact that ICC had an intensive course, sounded perfect to me. The caliber of chefs also greatly appealed to me, as everyone seemed to come from a very experienced background. The last big draw was that it was located right in the heart of New York City!

How did you enjoy attending school in New York City? Did you find the energy of the city and its culinary scene enhanced your experience?

New York is truly the best place to learn about food. There are so many influences and you can literally find anything you want in the city. The energy gives you a certain drive which makes you feel like you want to do even more and perform even better and my time in NY got even better with the experience of all the chefs at school and their tips on where to find the best pastries and restaurants. I really think that is you can survive this industry in New York, you should be able to blossom anywhere else.

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Did you have goals upon graduation?

I always knew that I wanted to own my own cake shop. I didn’t know how it would be possible or when/where, but I did know I needed more experience first. I interned at Sugar Flower Cake Shop in New York and then further went on to work in California at It’s All About the Cake. When my long distance relationship with my then boyfriend (now husband) took me all the way to The Netherlands, I decided it was time to go for it!

How did International Culinary Center contribute to achieving those goals?

The knowledge I gained about pastries made me very well rounded and the training I received taught me to work in an organized and quick way. I now own my own cake shop in the Netherlands with my husband, and after being open for only two years we were awarded with the Dutch Wedding Award for Best Wedding Cake Specialist in the Netherlands! Now, in our third year we have gathered a great team around us and will be creating 200 wedding cakes this year. We also have very big plans for the upcoming year, but can’t quite disclose that information yet!

Find Sugarlips Cakes online:

Website // Instagram // Facebook

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Grad Meets Grill

Photo via FoodNetwork.com

ICC alumna Angie Mar is the new “Chopped Grill Masters” grand champion!

She found her competitive voice during the tournament and let her food do the talking for her, cooking by relying on her gut despite at times hearing comments from the judges that would have discouraged less confident chefs. Certain basket ingredients almost threw her for a loop, like the rattlesnake in the appetizer round and the kokoretsi in the entree round, but she didn’t let that dictate the way things would turn out. Going into the dessert round alongside Stan, she was more determined than ever to show off her control of flavor in her final dish. And in the end she earned the title of Grand Champion, leaving with the $50,000 prize money and knowing that her plates got her to the finish line.

Read Angie’s interview on the FoodNetwork Blog.

More than 50 ICC alumni have competed on Chopped over the years

ICC graduates come well-prepared for the challenges presented by Food Network’s Chopped kitchen. Chopped is a cooking competition show where four chefs have seconds to plan and 30 minutes to cook an amazing course with the basket of mystery ingredients given to them moments before the clock starts ticking! Course by course, the chefs will be “chopped” from the competition. Chopped is a game of passion, expertise and skill — and in the end, only one chef will survive the Chopping Block.

Participating ICC graduates included Antonia Lofaso, Chris Nirschel, Kat Ploszaj, Andre Marrero, Elisabeth Weinberg, Helen Park, Hugh Mangum, Jason Khaytin, Palak Patel, Rachel Willen, Ruth Cimaroli, Vandy Vanderwarker, Kyle Bernstein, Zoe Feigenbaum, and many more.

Watch the latest episodes at FoodNetwork.com

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Photo via Food Fix Kitchen
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Photo via ChefPalakPatel.com

My Journey from ICC to Momofuku

By Aaron Hutcherson
2012 Professional Culinary Arts Graduate

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My goal upon graduating from the Professional Culinary Arts program at the International Culinary Center was to gain a position in food media. As such, I accepted an internship with Food Arts Magazine to gain experience and try to get my foot in the door. After about 10 weeks my internship ended and I had no job prospects in that field, so I decided to join full time as a cook at Northern Spy Food Co., where I had been working weekends during my internship.  Throughout that time, I continued to search for what I thought to be my dream job. Alas, after a year of looking and no such luck I decided to take a pseudo break from life by baking at Camp Ballibay, a summer camp for Fine and Performing Arts in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I figured it would give me the time and environment to clear my head and re-evaluate what I wanted to do with my life. (Plus I thought it would be beneficial to experience nature after living in New York City for four years.)

As I was approaching the end of my sabbatical from urban life, I came across a posting on Good Food Jobs for an operations position at Momofuku. Working for such a well-regarded restaurant group seemed like a one-in-a-million opportunity, but reading through the job description and desired requirements, I was unsure if I was qualified enough to be considered. Every couple of days I would revisit the job posting to mull the idea over. After about two weeks of this—and noticing that the position was still unfilled—I decided to cast my doubts aside and submit my cover letter and resumé.

A few interviews and several months later, here I am as a member of the Momofuku family. I work in the “operations” department, which really means I do a little bit of everything. A few examples of some of my tasks have included purchasing restaurant equipment, formatting menus for several of our restaurants, analyzing sales data, helping manage technology systems, and much, much more. Since it can be so varied, I sometimes have a hard time describing what I do whenever posed the question, but that diversity is what helps keep things interesting—that and a good group of co-workers.

And, to answer the question I’m sure you’re all wondering—yes, I do have access to a regular supply of Milk Bar treats.

Follow Aaron’s culinary journey on The Hungry Hutch.

The Meatball Shop’s Keys to Success

Michael Chernow, the restaurateur behind The Meatball Shop, wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do with his life. In high school he was a jazz tubist. (No really.)  Then he spent two years at Hunter College before realizing it wasn’t a good fit. So he left for California, chasing the dream so many others had before him: to become an actor. That fizzled.

He quickly returned to New York City, where he landed a front-of-house job at Frank, an iconic lower east side Italian spot. It’s there that things started to click.

“I learned I had a passion for people,” says Chernow. “If you stick me in a room of people, I’ll learn how to acclimate.”

Chernow spent years at Frank learning the restaurant business and building up a team of people who believed in his potential. When he was ready to pitch his own restaurant concept, he already had financial and mental supporters. That was his first smart move.

His second? Going into business with his best friend, Daniel Holzman, which he admits doesn’t always work out for everyone.

“Everybody’s an asshole,” Chernow says, pointing to specific people in the crowd and laughing. “But I’d rather be in business with an asshole that I trust than one who will screw me over.”

But he started a restaurant with with a friend who spent years at Le Bernardin. Cue tasty food.

The first problem they ran into was deciding on a concept. Chernow put himself through the culinary and restaurant management programs at the International Culinary Center, where he developed an idea for an artisanal cheeseburger joint that won him an award at school. But, it didn’t win over his best friend, who wanted to create a Byzantine tasting menu. (“A What?” was basically this crowd’s reaction.)

Their ideas didn’t mesh well. However, they knew their restaurant would be located in the Lower East Side, so they studied their demographic – drunk, budding adults partying until 4 a.m. They saw an audience who needed fast, cheap food at ungodly hours. So they settled on the idea of meatballs. Smart move number three: Matching their restaurant concept to the location and demographic.

When Chernow enrolled in the restaurant management program at the Culinary Center, he learned how to write a business plan and open his own restaurant, a template he used for The Meatball Shop. (Smart move number four.)

“You need a business plan. If you don’t have one it’s like driving across country without a map,” explains Chernow.

It took about a month for Holzman and Chernow to customize Chernow’s original business plan for The Meatball Shop. Chernow stresses the importance of the executive summary and the financials.

“Investors aren’t interested in details. They want to read a strong executive summary, which should only be a page, and then your financials. If those two match up, maybe they’ll sign up.”

One of the keys to Chernow’s success was building a key team of investors during his earlier career at Frank.

“Seventy-five percent of our original investors are from Frank,” says Chernow. “Our first meeting was with three investors, and we walked away with $75,000. From there it was no turning back.”

It took $390,000 to get the restaurant up and running. They opened in 2010 with 30 employees and no management costs. Today they have 400 employees and soon-to-be five restaurants.

“Public relations is a huge element in business, and our PR agency took a risk on us. They saw how hard we worked and believed in our food,” says Chernow. “That was over 3 years ago, and yesterday I was on The Today Show.”

It was over fancy cocktails that Chernow divulged all these secrets to his alma mater’s crowd. He was the first guinea pig in the new series, “Drinks with Dorothy,” a networking series where successful food industry leaders will share how they made it in an often unforgiving industry.

The event made a splash, especially after Chernow told us to stick around because he brought a sampling of his favorite meatballs. There’s really no better way to network, is there?

Grad Lands His Dream Job Working for José Andrés

Carlos Castera admits that he used to go to José Andrés’ restaurant, Jaleo, and dream about being in the kitchen. Back then he was working as a union representative, but in his free time he’d be at home replicating the meals he’d eat at restaurants.

And if Carlos didn’t end up at the International Culinary Center as a Spanish Culinary Arts student, he may have had a lot of “what if” thoughts stuck in his head right now:

What if I never won that scholarship to attend the Spanish Culinary Arts program?

What if I never got to meet Chef José during my classes?

What if I never got the chance to go to the school’s career fair and meet with Jose Andres’ team and apply for the sous-chef training program?

What if I never went to Spain and trailed Chef José to his favorite restaurants and farms?

Luckily, Carlos had the opportunity to go to school, practice classic tapas dishes, and travel around Spain to learn the origin of the cuisine. And now he can say he is part of the management team at Jaleo—his dream job.

He scored a three-month training program within Chef José’s ThinkFood Group, which sets Carlos up for a sous-chef position once he completes the program next month.

“I’m living the dream. I can say I’m management,” he admits. “The other day I went to grab ice, and I ran into José who asked how I was doing and wanted to check in on me. Then, in the middle of the restaurant, he gave me a hug.”

Carlos describes his culinary adventure as a big puzzle. The culinary principles and techniques he learned in class have been put to use over 100 times in the restaurant; and when he plates a piece of jamón he refers back to his trip to Spain.

 

“In Spain, I learned about the products I now work with. A lot of people just see jamón, but I see the whole process,” says Carlos. “It’s a big puzzle and now I’m putting it together.”

 

What It’s Like to Study Food in Italy

So I should’ve rethought my culinary experience. I loved spending six months as Classic Culinary Arts student, but after talking to Carl Vahl about his experience in the Italian Culinary Experience, I have to say I’m a little jealous.

Carl is a career changer and in 2010 he decided to leave his law career behind, take a leap of faith, and follow his dreams of becoming a chef. An Italian one at that. So he applied to the International Culinary Center’s Italian Culinary Experience and a few months later he was learning Italian and the principles of Italian cuisine in the New York campus, all in preparation for his voyage to Colorno, Italy. That’s where he started the La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana, or Alma, a palace outfitted with a cooking institution. And that’s where my deep-seeded jealousy begins.

He pointed me to his blog where he detailed pretty much every moment of his trip abroad. Cue hunger pangs. I spent a few hours reading about weekly visits from Michelin-starred chefs who made beautiful meals by transforming simple ingredients into something so delicious your palate could hardly recognize it.

He got to talk to executive chefs like Mauro Elli chef of Ristorante Il Cantuccio who shops his own produce and grows the rest in his own garden. Talk about fresh. And then to top it off, he takes everyone of his 24 guests’ orders and personally suggests which wine would pair well. Then he heads to the kitchen to make the meal. Talk about an impressive chef.

Chef Bruno Ruffini, chef-instructor for English-speaking students at Alma, led the class in daily instructions. Some days, the Italian class would be in charge of family meal and it wouldn’t be uncommon for Carl to have to turn out a meal for 250 heads. He remembers one particular meal where he cleaned 60-plus bass in three hours. But days like this were juxtaposed with field trips to castles such as Al Cavallino Bianco in Emilia-Romagna where he had the chance to dine among the beautiful vistas and explore the castle’s cellar where they aged DOP salumi.

 


Castle Al Cavallino Bianco


Salami aging

He finished his education by interning at Alla Lanterna, a family owned, exclusively seafood restaurant on the Adriatic Coast where he learned how to clean every type of seafood found in the Adriatic.

Studying in Italy meant that every minute was a learning experience—inside and out of the classroom. Carl took full advantage of this mentality and spent weekends traveling to nearby regions like Tuscany.

“The combination of the culinary instruction, language, history, wine, and all the field trips was really a perfect way to learn fine Italian cuisine. Italy has 20 food regions, many more sub-regions, and micro climates where the food is very diverse but always amazing because of the ingredients and the passion put into food. At Alma we got a taste of all regions and many amazing products,” says Carl.

Carl is now the executive chef at Della Notte, a classic American/Italian restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland.

What I Learned at Saveur Magazine

By Sara Cann,
Classic Culinary Arts alum

Something struck me a few weeks ago when I was asked to try a new line of healthy frozen foods. I was standing among fellow magazine writers, but there was a major divide between these writers and me. They were gushing over the frozen chicken and reheated eggs whereas I found myself searching for the seasoning, the texture, and the presentation. In my head phrases like, “Where’s the pop? The excitement? The SALT?” were frantically streaming through my head, and then it hit me: I’ve been Saveured.

If this were a year ago, I probably would’ve joined the masses and cooed over this healthy alternative to Lean Pockets, but for the past three months, I’ve been through the trenches of Saveur magazine’s test kitchen. And if I had any doubt that this experience left an impression on my life, all I had to do was take a step back and realize that almost everything I do in the kitchen (and grocery store) is now different.

For a large chunk of my time in the test kitchen, I was the only intern (when they usually have three), so I got a crash course in everything from grocery shopping, recipe testing and developing, ingredient sourcing, and food styling. In a way, I was lucky. I didn’t have to share many responsibilities, and the large stack of recipes I tackled every day were just added to my arsenal of amazing recipes to impress friends and family with. I worked my way through the pizza and grilling issue. I know how to mold a thin and beautiful crust–one that won’t stick to a pizza peel or stone.


My pizza

I know that a pinch of sugar in the dough will make it a beautiful, blistered color when kissed by the broiler. And after weeks of standing in front of a grill pan, I got over my fear of using my fingers instead of tongues.

As I surge forward in my food editorial career, I’m bettered prepared for whatever the food industry has in store for me because of this internship. I’ve combed through hundreds of ingredients and know what fenugreek seeds taste like or where to buy Chiles de Arbol. Before this internship, I would’ve had no idea what ingredients like dried Persian limes were or how amazing they can be in broth or an aromatic for rice.

I was able to get a world-class food education without ever having to leave New York City all thanks to the kitchen directors, Kellie Evans and Judy Haubert. These ladies could turn a sub-par recipe into something mouthwatering. It was always a little nerve-racking to present these editors (and a host of others) with a dish you prepared, and wait for their thoughts. It was hard not to take credit for the dish even though it isn’t your recipe–no matter how good or bad. But it was amazing to watch the recipes transform from being “boring” or “it needs a better texture” to becoming irresistible.

And the most amazing part was that the kitchen director, Kellie, knew how to fix it without ever picking up a spoon. She’d fiddle with the recipe on her computer, print out a clean copy, we’d remake it, and boom, a classic was born. It was like watching a kitchen wizard. And being in the presence of these two magical creatures, the journalist inside me couldn’t help but try to lure out some of their tips. I now know that whenever you need that can’t-quite-tell-what-that-flavor-is-but-I-love-it touch, add a tiny pinch of cumin. Or if you want to make the most amazing burgers in the world, roll them in Montreal Steak Seasoning. And if you find yourself making a mess when cutting kernels off the cob, wedge the ear in the middle of a Bundt pan.

When the next round of interns rolled in, they asked me how many hours I needed to work in order to finish my education. None. I sometimes pulled 13-hour days because this was a dream job for me and I did it as a learning experience, not a school requirement. And for all my fellow crazy International Culinary Center grads–those who pull more work hours than shut-eye with no pay, and those who hobble when they first get out of bed, here are some of my favorite, fool-proof recipes that I fell in love with while working at Saveur.

1. Gruyere-Rosemary-and-Honey Monkey Bread: Think homemade, pillow-y biscuits soaked in cheese and honey. Good luck not eating the entire loaf.
2. Salad Nicoise Quiche: I developed this recipe and it was a favorite among the editors. It came out creamy as if a custard and has a traditional vinaigrette blended into the egg mixture, making for a perfectly seasoned quiche. Plus, it’ll look beautiful on your breakfast table.

3. Roasted chicken: Okay, you think you know how to roast a chicken, but this method guarantees a bronze bird packed with flavor. The secret? Soy sauce.
4. Creme Fraiche Salad Dressing: This salad is amazing. The citrus and pistachios keep it fresh and interesting.
5. Cherry Clafoutis: This cherry dessert has a wow factor. When you pull it out of the oven, it’ll have big, bronze air pockets studded with cherries. It’s basically a glorified crepe.
6. Greek Feta Tart: This is such an easy and delicious appetizer. It’s buttery and oozing with cheese. What more could you want?

The June/July issue is about grilling and there are a lot of standout recipes. I can’t link to them because they’re not uploaded yet, but look out for Thai Chicken, Korean Kalbi, and Jamaican Snapper.